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Cops and Home Office plot uber-CCTV network

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Even the report's authors note that people might be worried by this.

"Integrated systems significantly increase the capacity to undertake public surveillance," they say, "and therefore needs to be carefully controlled by Information and Surveillance Commissioners’ guidance..."

Very few of us are in favour of truck bombs in London. The trouble is, this kind of kit - being so much cheaper and easier to access than surveillance teams, aircraft, fortified watchtowers etc. - can, and probably will, get used for many other purposes. The report admits as much.

In addition to the police, there are many other uses and users of CCTV, such as... insurance companies and solicitors... local authority officers... highways enforcement officers, dog wardens, health safety and licensing ...

So, potentially your insurers, solicitors acting for your enemies, every petty official in the land, even the bloody dog warden can watch and track you. Unless of course you're the kind of person who deals only in cash, wears his hoodie up at all times and mainly drives stolen, uninsured or unregistered cars.

There is also a mildly chilling hint that a lot of this capability is already out there, in the hands of the intelligence agencies and their secretive special-powers police associates.

Consultation has taken place with the Counter Terrorist Command of the Metropolitan Police (SO15), the Security Services [MI5, MI6 and GCHQ]... [and the] Serious and Organised Crime Agency... National security considerations prevent a detailed description of their requirements appearing in this document.

Certainly it's well known that the spies, the special forces and elements of the police were using integrated (often covert or airborne) CCTV as part of an almost total surveillance umbrella in places like West Belfast decades ago, getting round the tech limitations of the time by using large amounts of lavishly-trained manpower when required. Rumour has it that certain areas of the mainland UK are nowadays getting the same treatment.

So what? The government is quite clear that things have not gone far enough, and the ultimate goal should be to "create an effective cross country strategic CCTV network".

It doesn't work well on hoodies, the jails are full anyway and the counter-terror lads aren't doing too badly already. Who's this new stuff supposed to watch, then?

Maybe the government should just stick to checking bus lanes after all. ®

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